CamBay students, teachers get help for trauma
“You may be surprised how much goodness can come out of those situations”
The Cambridge Bay district education authority wants to help its students, teacher and staff deal with trauma caused by suicide, violence and accidental death.
That’s why the DEA decided to bring in Terry Garchinski from Life Works Counselling and Training to offer three workshops, the first for a group of about 20 high school students in February, the second for teachers, offered last month, and the last for another group of students scheduled for May.
“The DEA recognized that the administrators, teachers and students were feeling overwhelmed with the many tragic events and that this was affecting student attendance and student and staff morale,” said Vicki Aitaok, a member of the DEA.
Money for the workshops came from the DEA within the Inuuqatigiitsiarniq program funding provided by the Government of Nunavut’s Department of Education, she said.
Contributions of writing and drawings from workshop participants will lead to a booklet containg advice on how to deal with trauma.
And that booklet, promises Garchinski, will be “full of life.”
“When you think of something like trauma, accidental death and suicide and terrible things like that, you may be surprised how much goodness can come out of those situations,” Garchinski said in a recent interview.
Jazzlyn Kalluk, a 16-year-old in Grade 10 at Kiilinik High School, told Nunatsiaq News that she wasn’t sure she wanted to attend the February trauma workshop.
The other kids in the group weren’t the ones she usually hung out with.
Kalluk went into the workshop thinking that it was going to be a course intended “to help us help others.”
But she discovered that “it was a therapy class.”
And although Kalluk said she was “kind of iffy about that,” she said she discovered that the workshop opened new doors to thinking about herself and her fellow students.
That’s likely due to the approach taken by Garchinski, who says he “invites” healing.
Garchinsiki says he lets youth participants like Kalluk guide the workshops.
“I say what questions do you want answered then they pose the questions and then as a group we answer them. The young people have the answers and they have the questions,” he said.
Role playing, discussions and drawings then guide the discussions, which give them “a safe forum to deal with the hurt and pain among their peers in a way that’s not only going to help them but other people.”
Part of the workshop involved contributing pictures, quotations or some other piece of writing to the booklet intended to help others deal with trauma.
Garchinski said many of the drawings were full of hearts “which you wouldn’t necessarily connect with trauma.”
“The other surprising thing is confronting trauma that either takes life or is life threatening allows these people to express their beliefs and their values and what’s important to them,” he said, adding “it takes some risk for young people to put themselves out at this level.”
A group of mainly teenaged boys came up with a prayer during the February workshop, in which they thanked God, asked for blessings for their family and friends, and prayed for help to free their minds from angry thoughts and sadness.
“Help us get through stress and rough times,
Help us not to drink and drive,
Help us to take care of the children and respect the elders,
Help the homeless and the hungry,
Help us and all the people with education,
Help us to show love to each other and to ourselves,” it says.
The prayer, said Dylan Aknavigak, one of the prayer’s authors, helped him deal with the recent loss of his grandfather.
The booklet with the prayer’s full text and other contributions should be in the hands of students and teachers by the end of the school year.
And the DEA says it’s now looking at more workshops on other topics that will improve student confidence, attendance and morale, and team building with school administrators and staff.